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Episode 234

Teigan McKinnon

Due to many requests, I’m delighted to chat to Teigan McKinnon in this week’s episode. You can hear Teigan’s first birth story in episode 100 but today we talk about her recent twin birth with babies Violet and Audrey. Conceived via IVF, Teigan’s embryo split in two and at her first dating scan she discovered she was pregnant with twins. After being warned of the complications of identical MCDA twins (two amniotic sacs but a shared placenta), her pregnancy was relatively straight-forward and after being induced at 36weeks, she delivered both girls vaginally with an epidural.

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“In May 2020 we started talking about going through the IVF process again and in August we went to the clinic to see what we needed to do…The day that I went in for my transfer, the lady who chose the embryo commented on how healthy it was and the fact that it didn’t even look like it had been frozen and I wonder then if she knew…I didn’t have to do any hormones; I had two weeks of blood tests that showed that my levels were good and I literally just had to go in for the transfer; it was very straightforward.”

Teigan received a phone call from the fertility clinic when she was at home one day and despite her happiness, life continued on, as it does. In week seven she started to feel incredibly sick and was sensitive to all smells but her nausea abated the week afterwards.

“I had a dream on the Wednesday night that I was in my hospital bed feeding two babies. We went for our scan on the Thursday and we were waiting on the bed and the doctor had to do an internal ultrasound; she could see the baby on one side and then she flipped over to the other side and said: ..and there’s another baby! It was very surreal; I’m a nervous laugher so I was just laughing and Alex just had his hands over his eyes. We didn’t talk about it at all on the drive home.”

“Because they are identical twins –  they are MCDA (two different sacks, shared placenta) – the doctor went through all the doom and gloom at our first appointment at 10 weeks, including twin-to-twin transfer of blood, one baby getting more nutrients than the other, the risk to me….it was so much more to think about. She went through everything that could go wrong….but then she pointed out that I was young and healthy and that everything was looking good so far…but they had to give us the worst case scenario. I ended up having an appointment every two weeks to check the placenta and the babies’ weight.”

Teigan’s obstetrician wasn’t exactly passionate about encouraging a twin vaginal delivery but she took into account Teigan’s circumstances (Teigan’s husband Alex is in a wheelchair and she has a busy toddler at home; a caesarean birth was going to be detrimental to her family lifestyle) and agreed that it would be the best option if Twin A was head-down and Teigan agreed to have an epidural as soon as she started having contractions.

“Twin A, Violet, was head down all pregnancy and she got really pushed down in the last six weeks. Audrey kept flipping between head and bum down and on the day of birth she was actually transverse; she had so much room to move around.

“An epidural was one of the criteria that I had to sign off on if I wanted a vaginal birth. There’s a few reasons for this; it’s more comfortable for me if Twin B needs to be manually turned by the obstetrician after Twin A is born and also because Twin B endures her own labour but also Twin A’s and that can put a lot of stress on her. I felt so heavy and so big at the end and I had the worst heartburn. It was really tricky to tell which twin was moving, especially as their limbs were close together on the left side as the placenta took up most of the right side.”

Teigan had her induction planned for 36 weeks. On the Saturday she went into hospital for a steroid injection to help the babies’ lung development. She returned the following day and stayed overnight (and got a full night’s sleep) before induction started on the Monday. She was already 2cm dilated so instead of needing a balloon catheter, she went straight to a syntocin drip and had Twin A’s water’s broken.

“I had monitors on both the baby’s and I was hooked up to the drips, I felt very stuck in the bed. At midday I started to feel a bit of period pain and half-an-hour later I had the epidural put in. I was aware of when I was contracting – like a belly ache – but it was so different from my first birth so I wasn’t really sure.

“It was about 3pm when I started feeling pressure in my bum but I still doubted whether it was anything. I called the midwife and she lifted up the blanket and said: Right, yes, we’re on and everyone came rushing into the room; midwives, two obstetricians, paediatricians, the double bassinet, resuscitation table.

“They put my feet up in stirrups and I did a practice push so I knew how to do it and within two pushes Violet was out and she was screaming her little lungs out. I didn’t know how long the cord would be from the girls to the placenta, I wanted to do a bit of delayed cord clamping if I could. She was put on my chest and they waited a minute before cutting the cord and then they took Violet to the pediatrician. They brought the ultrasound machine over and it showed that Audrey was head down so the Obstetrician placed pressure on the right side of my belly and that pushed her down into my pelvis and then my waters broke all over my obstetricians face which was just hilarious and absolutely embarrassing. But within two pushes Audrey was born and she came out crying as well.

“Alex was holding Violet while I was birthing Audrey and then I had them both on my chest and they settled within seconds. They made their way onto my breasts and latched really well. It was so surreal and quite awkward and it was exactly what my dream was like at the very beginning of my pregnancy.”

The twins’ sugar levels were low so they spent the first two nights in the nursery and were tube fed expressed colostrum and formula (you can access information on antenatal expressing in my Breastfeeding Guide.

After a week in hospital, Teigan was itching to be discharged and since going home, she’s established a beautiful routine. Her mum has moved in for the first 12 weeks and while she’s currently breastfeeding (tandem feeding with the support of a breastfeeding pillow), she’s going to take the journey week by week and isn’t too fixated on one particular feeding method. She admits that tandem-feeding them is easy; burping them at the same time is tricky!

Topics Discussed

Identical twins MCDA, Tandem breastfeeding, Antenatal expressing, Vaginal birth, Induction, IVF, Epidural

Episode Sponsor

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Today’s episode is brought to you by The Birth Class. After listening to hundreds of birth stories, pregnancy and birth experiences over the years (and birthing my own three beautiful boys) I have created my dream online childbirth education course. The Birth Class. Inside The Birth Class you will enjoy 9 incredibly insightful audio interviews with some of Australia’s favourite midwives, doulas, childbirth educators and yoga teachers Together we unpack: every aspect of birth, including the stages of labour, the role of the bodies naturally occurring hormones in birth, how to prepare your body during pregnancy for birth through optimal maternal positioning and how to harness your breath and sound and use active birthing techniques, how to prepare for a VBAC, What to expect in a Caesarean and lots more. The Birth Class also includes a 70 page colour illustrated workbook with transcripts of the audio interviews and a hospital bag checklist, birth preferences checklist for you to print and customise. In order to ensure you have mastered the breathing and relaxation techniques we discuss in the course, I have also included a 25minute Yoga Nidra meditation and a 5 minute breathing exercise you can practice throughout your pregnancy. The Birth Class goes on sale May 2021. You can join the waiting list now over at The Birth Class.

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